Sonically speaking, Silvertone Hills are a rare breed in Hamilton as they mine less hard rock and more Brit Pop for their music. Over the last three years, Andrew Billone (guitar, vocals), Liam O’Sullivan (vocals), Mike Park (bass), and newest members Bryan Mostert (drums) and Nicholas Slagter (guitar) have been offering up melodic and arty rock in the vein of Blur or Oasis but with their new EP set for release this weekend, Silvertone Hills have refined their musical and promotional approach.
“We learned that we had to do a lot heavier promotion around the release,” offers Billone on the lessons learned following the band’s debut Follow Suit EP from just a year or two ago. “I think we were excited just to record the songs and get them out but with our new release, we’ve put more effort into releasing a couple of key tracks before hand to generate some hype. The opening track “This Paradise”, we put a lot of work into filming a video for that and releasing that a few months ago to get people on board with the way that we sounded and not just throw a whole new EP at them. With the way people access their music, having something visual allows us to show who we are as a band and what we’re about aesthetically. All of our favourite bands had a visual aspect to them and a video helps us get that across.
“Through trial and error you try to figure out what reaches the largest fan base and gets us on their home speakers or just their phones,” adds Billone. “I grew up listening to my favourite bands in full album form but I think it’s presumptuous to think that someone who has never heard us before would sit through twelve songs. To be able to put out something that appeals to what people like and achieves our goals, that’s a happy medium. With all five tracks now available, we hope people will enjoy them all as a whole package.”
The Noel Gallagher of this band [meaning he’s writing the songs but defers lead vocals], Billone is the creative driving force but since the band has refined from a foursome to a five–piece, the influences and output are naturally evolving.
“Pretty much from the inception of this band, I’ve brought in the songs, whether that’s the melody, lyrics, chord changes — but more of the band are adding their parts and it’s our goal to move forward more collectively,” says Billone. “We plan on releasing new material by the end of this year or beginning of next and it’ll probably sound a little more evolved with their influences and what they’re contributing. I might have had my head up my own bum with regard to what we were playing before because I was proud of what I’d written but I’m open to everyone contributing. It’s nice to see how an idea can change shape and form based on everyone else’s parts.”
Recorded in collaboration with Mike Monson at Catherine North Studio, “Running in Circles” comes off melodic, fanciful and imaginative — not unlike their obvious heroes but there is enough grit to sink your teeth into. Billone suggests the songs document life but with perhaps a positive attitude.
“Lyrically, the themes in the verses are based on the frustrations of the trials and tribulations of being someone in their early twenties and having to figure a lot of stuff out,” says Billone. “Because I love indie rock and that pop rock, feel good kind of thing, our choruses are usually a nice resolve to that tension. We’re finding our way through the crap and just having a good rock and roll time by the time you get to the chorus. I love how all of those Brit Pop songs gave you a sense of freedom and confidence and hope... and there was a nice uplifting feeling so we try to convey that kind of spirit with what we’re doing even if the sounds are different.
“There isn’t as much of an Oasis feeling with the newer songs because of listening to different things and the band bringing more contributions,” adds Billone. “But as we learn to operate and figure out what’s cool with all of the members of the band, you’ll hear more variety of sounds. I was into Tom Petty while I was getting these songs and the last track has a Pink Floyd psychedelic jam... This Paradise has a disco groove — it’s growth for sure and it’s still happening.”
While the writing and recording have their merits, for Billone playing their original music live is the most gratifying and the band is excited to be sharing the bill with a band they’ve played alongside
for some time although the Naires are now New Mother Nature [And New Mother Nature has a new song as well]. For Billone, the EP release party for the Sillvertone Hills is expected to be the party of the year.
“We’ve been friends with the Naires since they started and Thomas [Duxbury] is a really good friend of mine — they’ve really got a great blues rock thing going on with a nice gallop to their sound — something different that we haven’t heard from a while and we’re happy to play with them,” says Billone. “I believe this could be the Electric Cactus’ first show so we’re excited to have them out — I guess that this show is an event for all three bands. With each of us not sounding like the same band, it’s good that we get to get our ºmusic heard by different fans of different styles of music.
“The past few shows we’ve done over the summer have really reinforced my love of playing live,” adds Billone. “When I first started the band, I was just a kid that would rather be making music at his computer but we played a show in Montreal a month ago and it was incredible to see people, that we had no idea who they were, singing along with our songs and cheering for us. That kind of reinforces why you do it and it’s nice to have people from all over the place enjoying what you’re doing — it keeps you going. The live show is something we put our best effort into. We haven’t played a big indoor show in Hamilton since April — we like to spread out our shows. When we play Hamilton, we do it for a special event so we’ve already got a lot of friends and family inquiring about this one and I hope it’s our biggest show yet.” V
Silvertone Hills play this Saturday August 10 at Mills Hardware with New Mother Nature and the Electric Cactus. Doors are at 7pm and $15 gets you in. Click on silvertonehills.bandcamp.com